Helping SO through his parent's difficult split(6 Posts)
We recently found out that my SO's parents are separating, with plans to divorce, as his mum has found out that her husband has been unfaithful - and been involved in another relationship for some time. My SO is devastated by the news - both sad and angry, unsure how to feel or what his role should be throughout the inevitable drama to come. He has always been close with both parents up until now. I feel at a total loss as to how to help and support him, as I've been lucky enough to not have experienced parental divorce myself, and most of the advice articles or well-being sites I have searched are all centered (understandably so) around how to support young children through this difficult time. (We are in our mid 20's and SO's parents are ~50yrs).
Any suggestions or thoughts from those who've found themselves in a similar situation (from any side of the coin!) would be really appreciated!
Sympathies. I have helped my husband through this when he was about 30. Now he is 35. It was a really tough time. His mum had an affair - which she told only me about (but that's another post!) - they divorced. We could all see why she'd done it though as her husband was very difficult to live with. It was him who caused the most problems afterwards. So these may not apply but:
- DH needed time to process it and not see his childhood as a 'lie' or somehow tainted.
- main thing is to help your SO decide what he will and won't discuss. My DH was quite soft on his Dad as he felt sorry for him, at least at first. But this became long, daily rants about how he was the wronged party. Much criticism of MIL. It was constant for years until DH said he didn't want to hear it as he still has a relationship with her.
My FIL relied way too much on DH to cope and it ruined their relationship. So to protect relationships with both parents, boundaries are very much needed.
I personally wish I'd been honest with FIL that I didn't agree on his blamelessness because he has become more and more fixed in his edited version of events and very bitter and twisted.
This might not all be relevant of course.
Sorry OP I was thinking I wasn't particularly clear earlier. I think my ramble was basically trying to say: there are two sides to everything. And whoever is to 'blame' both parents may very well try and win people, and especially your SO, over to 'their side' - and in so doing expect practical and emotional support. But presumably your SO will want to maintain relationships with both of them and so it can help to be clear on boundaries from the start to both to protect his relationships with each.
And this is a good article I read at the time www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/14/divorce-adult-offspring-acods
Thankyou - very helpful and clear! We had a discussion about boundaries last night, following your message, as it seems some of what you described is already beginning to happen with MIL (who is perhaps sharing a little too much about the situation, though understandably so with what she is going through). As SO is the oldest child, I can see him being leaned on a lot during whatever is to come. Especially as the younger siblings are somewhat still more emotionally and psychologically dependent on the parents, so I can see this happening so so easily. SO agreed completely, I think he was already worried about this tbh and we are going to try and place some gentle boundaries when we go down to the family home at the weekend. If only for SO to have a shot at maintaining a decent relationship with each parent.
And thank you for the article - a very helpful and insightful read and mirroring much of what we're experiencing right now. I may also pass this on to SO when he is a little less raw from the shock of it all, as I'm sure it would help him to see his is not alone.
Glad to be able to help a little. It was such a rough time for us and not something others may understand. Only really one close colleague of my DH at the time really saw how much his Dad put him through. We are a bit out the other side now and it gets better.
You sound like a lovely supportive partner.
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